United Nations Security Council diplomats were unable to come to a consensus on condemning Syria for the killings of hundreds of its civilians Wednesday, giving a victory to the Assad regime while Iranian diplomats watched intently from the sidelines.
An earlier draft of a non-binding press statement championed by the Western European members of the Council -- Britain, France, Germany and Portugal -- had called for a condemnation of the violence, and among other things, an independent and transparent inquiry into the violence.
But Security Council members could not agree on the statement and were left to air their condemnations during the open council meeting that followed.
Syrian Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Al Ja’afari told reporters that the majority of the “wise council” wasn’t dictated to from outside, saying “this propaganda didn’t get any consensus.”
At the meeting U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice had strong words for the Syrians, calling on the international community to respond “to this brutal crackdown, and to hold accountable those who are perpetrating these gross human rights violations.” She also reiterated the charge that the Syrians were being helped by Iran saying that it was “repressing Syria’s citizens through the same brutal tactics that have been used by the Iranian regime.”
Rice was joined by the Western European delegations in outright condemning the Syrian regime, but others, like Russia, China, India, South Africa and Lebanon, were not so quick to condemn.
Russia’s representative told council members that the situation in Syria “does not present a threat to international peace and stability.” The representative said the violence wasn’t coming from just one side and warned of the situation leading to civil war. China, meanwhile, called for the various parties in Syria to address the issues themselves.
Lebanon, the only Arab member of the council, spoke of its close and historical ties to Syria and said that both countries security was closely linked, saying that the “Lebanese stand side by side with Syria.”
Syria’s ambassador, who talked for some 20 minutes, dismissed Rice’s claims on Iran’s help as being “Hollywoodian," something that he said showed “the true negative intent of the U.S. administration vis-a-vis my country.” He then went on to claim outsiders were “sabotaging” and “financing” the violence against Syria claiming that extremists and terrorists and been the cause of the violence, all this while trumpeting his country’s reforms.
One interested party watching on the sidelines was Iran, its several diplomats taking note of what was going on. Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee, denied his country was helping Syria in the repression of its people.
Meanwhile, with a special session on Syria called at the U.N. Human Rights Council this Friday in Geneva, pressure is mounting on Syria’s candidacy for a spot on the council.
Western diplomats tell Fox News that they are seeking another candidate to challenge Syria in the Asian bloc, and now an international coalition of human rights groups is campaigning to get the U.N. Human Rights Council to reject the Syrian bid at Friday’s session. Yet despite the clamor, Khazaee gave Iran's backing to Syria’s bid to join the council, telling Fox News that he supports it.
Ben Evansky reports for Fox News on the United Nations and international affairs.
He can be followed @BenEvansky